Navy Goes Inland for Iraq

David Axe takes a look at the Navy’s new army, the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

NECC — based alongside patrol boats and amphibious ships at Little Creek, Virginia — includes construction battalions, logistics troops, harbor patrol units, ordnance disposal teams and the new riverine squadrons, and is the subject of a story in the current issue of Defense Technology International.


“We saw a need to put them into a coherent structure and better equip them,” adds NECC commander Rear Admiral Donald Bullard, 55. “And then, all of the sudden, we began to look at other capabilities” including Navy civil affairs and riverine.

Riverine forces in nimble, heavily-armed boats played a huge role in the Vietnam War, but were run down after the evacuation of that country as the Navy shifted focus on deterring the Soviet Navy. In Iraq, a country crisscrossed by large rivers, canals and marshes, the U.S. and British militaries (pictured) found themselves chasing down waterborne smugglers and insurgents in jerry-rigged engineer boats until specialized forces could be reconstituted.

It’s great to get these forces aggregated, although it’s not clear to me why it wouldn’t be more efficient to simply integrate these capabilities into existing task forces.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command

    Didn’t these used to be called “Marines”?

  2. SJ Reidhead says:

    From what I gather (and I am not saying how) they are working with some new technology. From what you have here and from what I’ve been told, it makes sense.

    The Pink Flamingo